Balaton, whether because of its diverse environment, its water, its wines or its gastronomy, is revered here in Hungary. But Dani Bezerics takes this reverence one stage further, dispelling stereotypes and flying the flag for progressive cuisine. From the winter season of 2017, he has brought his outstanding lakeside outlet, Paletta, to Tompa Street in Budapest’s gentrifying District IX.
Dani Bezerics and his team last visited Budapest during February’s Töltött Hold Gastro Weekend, where they were selling one of the most delicious treats served at this culinary festival: pulled carp. Back then, we could only daydream about eating such delicacies in the city on a regular basis. Our wish came true in November, when Paletta Budapest opened near the Corvin Quarter, in Tompa Street.
Not so long ago, there was a pub where Paletta now stands. While many of its interior elements remain, some DIY solutions give a more homely and rural feel to the place, such as the rustic wooden surfaces and colorful cutlery. Still, the bistro has brought a more demanding and revolutionary cuisine here, to be consumed in the most relaxed fashion possible.
We couldn’t find a single dish on the first menu that we wouldn’t taste with pleasure. At noon, they serve a lunch menu (with daily offers and fixed items, such as fried cheese and Wiener schnitzel), after which the kitchen closes for the afternoon and reopens at 6pm, awaiting guests with an à la carte dinner and wines.
Soon they will also have a sort of takeaway window with the best street-food dishes, such as the Asian-inspired Manga Laci: confit pork belly, braised for 12 hours and bathed in salt, somewhat similar to bánh mì. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try the iconic dödölle (1350 HUF), a popular traditional Hungarian dish of potato and wheat flour, served with homemade ricotta, salted almond cream and caramelized garlic.
The pulled carp lángos (1650 HUF) is a curious construction, made of home-smoked carp belly and lángos served with sour cream, chives and a flawless confit egg. The roe mulled wine (1450 HUF) is a spicy, rich and fragrant soup, served with roe ragout wrapped in cabbage, as well as mushrooms, which pleasantly intensify the already refined flavors.
The bistro offers classics such as Wiener schnitzel, fried chicken and duck, too, but we tasted the pork medallions and croquettes (4350 HUF) instead, served with our favorite of the season, Jerusalem artichokes. The tender sturgeon (4250 HUF), on the other hand, was served on a bed of homemade noodles with cajun spice, which worked very well with the fish.
From the current menu,for dessert we indulged in aranygaluska (1150 HUF), a traditional, trifle-like Hungarian dessert, and chocolate rice pudding (1050 HUF) with thyme ice cream. The latter persuaded us to stay a bit longer and ponder about the foods we just enjoyed.
Paletta provided us the best bistro dishes we have sampled of late, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the restaurant will receive the feedback and treatment it deserves from Budapest – which is to say, the best.